Today, as I was deleting the scads of forwards, email newsletters, and other garbage that had inundated my email inbox, I came across a post from a blog that I follow. The author of the Mission Paradox Blog is Adam Thurman, a theatre producer from Chicago, and he has some very interesting ideas about promoting your craft, whether it be a theatre or a corner store.
Today's post was entitled, "Most People", and in it Mr. Thurman discusses how, in our current disparate society, it is virtually impossible to achieve even a minute level of fame or notoriety, let alone the star power that will land you on the cover of Rolling Stone or The National Enquirer.
Thurman is absolutely correct. Consider the music or film industry in the 40's and 50's. How many genre's of music were there when Elvis, Sinatra, Buddy Holly, or Hank Williams were crooning their love songs? A handful at best. Now, there are more sub-genres and niches in music than hip-swivels in an Elvis song.
Some of the most clever, well written television programs are have only lasted a few seasons, before being bumped for some cheaply-produced reality show. Programs such as Arrested Development or Freaks and Geeks have kick-started the careers of some now wildly-acclaimed actors, but never saw even a paltry following during their existence. And yet Two and a Half Men and King of Queens have been on for nine seasons (I apologize to any fans of the aforementioned programs)?!
Thurman states in his essay that, "The goal isn't (or shouldn't be) to have the world know you. The goal is to build a following large enough to sustain you . . . large enough to be able to devote a substantial portion of your life to art creation."
On one hand, I agree with Thurman completely. Obtaining a regional or genre specific following, in today's cultural climate, is the realistic way to position yourself as an artist.
On the other hand, I disagree entirely with the premise that you should not try to conquer the world.
This is a potentially dangerous way to look at the world. A true renaissance man looks beyond his comfort zone, surpasses his area of expertise, and attempts to understand all things. This means becoming ubiquitous your niche, then moving past it, into areas yet undiscovered.
Master the craft that you want to dedicate your life to, but don't restrict yourself to only that world. That is what drives me - a respectful curiosity for the world in which I live. I believe that this is the most fulfilling way to approach life.
Seek to understand the world as a whole, so that you might exist in the world as a whole, rather than simply the world that you know.